Monday, June 4, 2012


New York's Little Italy has gotten tinier, yet a new Italian market place has opened in Manhattan on 23rd Street and 5th Avenue.  An entrance on 23rd Street leads to a cooking school.  The sign reads, "La Scuola Grande. Dean: Lidia Bastianich. Eat to Learn, Learn to Eat.  This particular class encompassed the Sicilian region with both food and wines.

La Scuola offers the opportunity to highlight the regions as the classes focus on one each month.  Lidia first introduced the staff for the evening to include Executive Chef Alex Pilas and Sous Chef Alicia Walter as well as the dignitaries from Sicily, Piergiorgio Sabatini, region of Sicily communications officer, and Dario Cartabellotta Director of Food and Agriculture. 

The menu began with an aperitivo of Tasca d'Almerita - Brut 2008.  I'm certainly happy that there was some bread and Italian imported olive oil as each course was paired with a wine. As each wine was served, an explanation was offered.

The first course was Antipasto was a Duo di Pane Cunzato of Acciughe con Peperonata & Caponata di Melanzane, of which the ingredients consisted of:   

Agostino Recca capers in salt
Geraci Nocellara extra virgin olive oil
Agostino Recca fillets of anchovy in olive oil
Ponti red wine vinegar
Red peppers
Red onion
Plum tomatoes
Pine nuts
House rustico bread

This was paired with white wine of Valle dell' Acate - "Zagra" 2011. 

On to the Secondo of Tonno Fresco al Forno con Capperi, Pomodorini e Origano of which the ingredients consisted of:

Heirloom multicolor cherry tomatoes
Villa Reale dried oregano

A red wine, Girolamo Russo - Etna Rosso "A Rina" 2010 was paired with this delicious delicacy.

Lastly was the Dolce of  Cannoli Sicilian. Pastry Chef Katia Delogu spoke about the two cannolis that were being prepared as well as a bit of history on the dessert.  "Why cannoli? Because we like", said Delogu.  She recommended the use of sheep's milk ricotta and to you a sieve for the best texture. Add  sugar and Candied orange peel to one, chocolate to the other.

 A dessert wine of Caravaglio Antonino - Malvaia dell Lipari 2008 was the delightfully sweet ending.

I was treated to a souvenir book called, Sicily Notes on the grape harvest...with the women of the island, by Andrea Zanfi. Lots of photos and stories. 

Left to right: Piergiorgio Sabatini (region of Sicily communications officer), Alex Pilas (Executive Chef of Eataly), Dario Cartabellotta (Director of Food and Agriculture – Sicily), Lidia Bastianich (Eataly principal, chef, author, TV personality, restaurateur), Dino Borri (Eataly Head Buyer), Luca Baffigo (Eataly partner)

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